LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION
Selecting the right people to recommend you :
Do they know you well enough
You don't want to go for someone who doesn't remember your name. Which is why it's always prudent to stick
with immediate superiors or professors (in an academic setting). More importantly, will the university believe
that they know you well enough. If the CEO of the firm where you
interned is recommending you, make sure it's clear that your interaction
with the recommender is apparent in the write-up. The University could
very well question the credibility of a recommendation if it appears to
have been manipulated.
How much credibility are they likely to hold with the university.
In academia, professors are likely
to carry more weight compared to lab-assistants. In any case, make sure
that the professional competence of the person recommending you is apparent.
Are they likely to give you a positive recommendation
And you want to be doubly sure
of this. You may want to stay away from the unreliable ones.
If necessary, approach the person and ask them upfront. Since they're likely
to have written recommendations for applicants before, it's not too much
to expect them to understand your anxiety. However, use your discretion
in case you aren't too sure of how he/she will react.
Get some variety into your recommendations
For multiple recommendations,
look out for whether the recommendations are likely to rehash the same
aspects of your personality. As far as possible, get recommendations from
people who've interacted with you in different situations. For example,
an engineering student would be well advised to get recommendations from
a professor, a lab instructor and someone like a project guide. The professor
could attest to the student's keen sense of class participation. The instructor
could focus on his/her skills in the laboratory and the project-guide on
his/her flair for research and getting to the root of problems.
Co-ordinate your recommendations with the rest of your application
If the somewhere in rest of your
application you've focussed on something like a particular project, it
would be particularly useful to try and build on that by providing a recommendation
from the person who guided you through that project. Likewise, if you've
talked about your biggest achievement at work, how about getting your boss
at the time to recommend you.
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